Boeing announced this morning that it is launching what it calls the “737 MAX Family” — the re-engined 737 — with commitments for 496 aircraft from five airlines. The engine chosen to power the new 737s is CFM International’s LEAP-1B, and Boeing said entry into service is scheduled for 2017. The official names for the three variants are 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8, and 737 MAX 9
As might be expected, Boeing said the re-engined 737s would offer significant fuel-burn advantages over the current 737 family, over the current A320 family, and also over the re-engined A320neo recently announced by Airbus. But beyond that, details were scarce. While American Airlines is known to have ordered 100 units, no other customers have been announced. Southwest is an obvious candidate, but other three carriers remain unknown.
Of course the engine remains the big mystery. Increased efficiency generally comes via increased diameter, but neither Boeing nor CFM has provided any specifications for the LEAP-1B, nor indicated how they will deal with the problem of the 737’s limited ground clearance. Those of you with an engineering mindset can click on the photo and let us know what you think after looking at the enlarged view. Alternatively, check out the 737 MAX section on Boeing’s new airplane site (http://www.newairplane.com/737/737Max/#/home). Click on the “360 Degree View” button and spin the airplane around for a better look.